In the three years since its debut, the Porsche Macan has carved a legend for itself in the compact SUV segment. Not content with merely building a sporting SUV with decent off-road capability, Porsche set out to create one that rivals many a sports saloon on the racetrack with little compromise in other areas.
As always, the Porsche name carries significant gravitas, so it came as no surprise that the Macan had a sky-high image from day one. This resulted in a long waiting list in most markets in its first two years of production, backed by higher residual values than any class rival to date. Clearly, desirability comes as standard!
Built on the Audi-designed MLB modular-longitudinal platform, the Macan debuted with a range of V6 engines that start with the punchy and economical 258hp 3.0-litre Diesel, extending through the 340hp 3.0-litre bi-turbo Macan S 3.0-litre, to Porsche’s own 400hp direct-injected 3.6-litre bi-turbo.
The year after, to help mitigate high local taxes in China and some Far East countries, Porsche added an entry-level 252hp, 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbocharged motor. Initially unique to those territories, this engine was later rolled out in Europe too, where its price and modest displacement is also favourable to local tax regimes.
Building on this already comprehensive range Porsche introduced the 360hp Macan GTS in late 2015. Based on the Macan S, its uprated chassis and brakes deliver a more incisive steer without corrupting comfort and driveability. In typical Porsche strategy, the long game is to fill all the obvious gaps in the range, and with the GTS established as the sportiest (but not fastest) Macan, it is now time to take the flagship Turbo model to the next level.
Where the 3.0-litre V6 bi-turbo Macan S engine is based on an Audi unit, the 3.6-litre bi-turbo V6 that powers the Macan Turbo is a Porsche creation. This 3,604cc all-alloy motor has a 96.0 x 83.0mm bore and stroke, these over-square dimensions endowing it with a high-revving character. Forced aspiration more than makes up for the loss of inherent torque compared to a longer stroke motor.
On the face of it, 400hp at 6,000rpm, with 550Nm of torque from 1,350 to 4,500rpm is plenty of grunt for a small SUV, even one with a 1,925kg kerb weight. Its stopwatch numbers bear this out with 0-100km/h (62mph) coming up in 4.6 sec, 0-160km/h (100mph) in 10.9 sec, and top speed pegging at 266km/h (166mph) in Sport Plus configuration. These are numbers that many a high performance car would be proud to own.
However, with the competition from Audi, BMW and Mercedes raising the bar the time is ripe for Porsche to add its new top-of-the-line Macan Performance Package flagship whose 10% extra grunt is enough to make a noticeable difference.
The 440 horses arrive at the same 6,000rpm as the normal Turbo, while the enhanced peak torque of 600Nm, up 50Nm, is served up on a generous plateau that begins an imperceptible 150rpm higher at 1,500rpm and ends at the same 4,500rpm.
These new bigger output figures translate into superior straight-line performance, the 0-100km/h (62mph) sprint taking just 4.4 seconds, while 160km/h (100mph) now comes up in 10.4 seconds, a full 0.5 sec quicker. Incidentally, this advantage is over the full-fat Turbo with the optional Sport Chrono package! Without this the Turbo takes an additional 0.2 seconds to reach each either benchmark speed. Top speed of the new model is up by 6km/h (4mph) to 272 km/h (170mph).
The uprated engine is mated to the same seven-speed ‘wet’ dual-clutch transmission, with attendant software changes to adapt it to the characteristics of the uprated motor. While some still hanker for a manual gearbox at times, this has been relegated to the history books in Porsche SUVs due to extremely low demand from buyers of the first generation Cayenne and Panamera.
By default then we declare the auto gearbox a perfect match for the punchy new motor, the engine/gearbox software integration well nigh faultless both in shifting speed as well as smoothness. In the performance modes of Sport and Sport Plus, the transmission applies torque overload during upshifts to give you the marketing person’s idea of a ‘racing upshift’.